12 December to 22 December 2014
It was the first day for me and Sampie on the dam, the beautiful Vanderkloof Dam. We got on the water a bit later this morning and decided to fish some of major cliffs of the Berg River inlet to see what is going on there.
Both of us were equipped with our light spinning setups.
Tackle for spinning for yellows:
- Abu Garcia Veracity 7ft medium action spinning rod
- Mitchell Avocet Silver III Silver spinning reel
- 7kg Berkley Nanofil line
- Salmo Hornet 3 cm (floating)
Our aim was to cast at the cliffs with small deep diving crankbaits and retrieve it at a slow speed to see if we could pick up some large- and smallmouth yellowfish. As we started spinning the cliffs we noticed a few decent smallmouth yellowfish taking flies on the surface while cruising down the cliffs. I cast at one of the golden buggers and left my lure dead still. The yellows stormed the lure, then stopped below the floating lure and next moment the water exploded as it grabbed my lure! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to set the hook, but I immediately jerked the lure and started reeling it in. The yellows once again stormed the lure and commenced following it, It followed my lure to the boat and just as I was about to pick the lure out of the water to cast again this agro bugger took it..zzzzzzzzzzz my reel went as it pulled me!
These smallmouth yellows sure put up a good fight every time! After a few runs the yellow was landed and after a few pics it was carefully released for another day. After catching this beaut I landed another one and got smoked by a big one due to the hook pulling. It was awesome to see how these smallies took any floating lure casted close to it. Sampie didn’t manage to get a smallie here as he was casting a sinking Salmo Hornet and for some strange reason the floating one worked way better though there is a very small difference between the two lures when retrieving it.
After a short while the smallies disappeared, so we decided to move on to another spot. This spot was a mix between hills and grey beds. We started by trolling down the cliffs via the outboard, we trolled at idling speed. While trolling we noticed a few catfish cruising next to the cliffs. These were pitch black specimens which we could see from far away in the clear water. After passing a few of these hunting brutes we decided to get out a catfish casting rod and keep it handy if we came across another specimen.
Tackle for casting at catfish:
- Abu Garcia Vendetta 7ft Heavy action casting rod
- Shimano Baitcaster (don’t know specific model)
- 50lb braid
- Lume Madpumkin Slow Sinking
As we expected a black brute came cruising down the cliffs towards us. We turned off the main motor and moved closer with the trolling motor to prevent spooking it. The catfish was aggressively searching for prey in the shallows net to the cliff. Sampie got within casting distance before casting his pumpkinseed at the brute. Immediately the catfish was all over the area where the lure just dropped – it was clear that the cat reacted positively to any splash made close to it. Though the pumpkinseed was a slow sinking pumpkinseed it still sank to fast as the catfish was searching for the lure on the surface. Sampie quickly retrieved his lure and cast at the eager fish again – again on the drop the fish stormed the area and started combing through the water with its whiskers through the water in search of the lure! The viskoors hit Sampie badly as he made another cast towards the cat. This time the lure hit a rock on impact and jumped out of the water onto the bank – then something insanely awesome happened – the catfish climbed out of the water in search of the lure which was laying on dry land! Sampie quickly retrieved his lure in disbelief and cast close to the fish, immediately the fish climbed back in the water and finally managed to take his lure – ON! The fish pulled like a beast on Sampie’s heavy action bass rod. Clearly the rod was being tested! Then fish gave a few hard pulls, Sampie was ecstatic! After a few pulls and heavy shakes the fish was landed. Sampie couldn’t believe this; never before has he seen such an aggressive catfish as the fish went for his lure 8 times and literally climbed out of the water to get to his lure! We released the 8kg brute after a few pics, what a way for Sampie to open his Vanderkloof account!
We moved further down the grey banks. The banks had numerous smaller smallies cruising in the shallows. I spotted a bigger specimen, another surface feeder! As with the yellows I caught earlier in the morning the yellow also took my Salmo Hornet on the surface, the only difference being that this time I managed a hook up on the take. Again this golden streamlined fish gave me a proper run until I managed to subdue it. Sampie followed me up by also catching a smallie on a floating crank and he was very pleased with his decent size specimen. We missed several smallies on this bank as most of them were small, here a dry fly would do some damage! On this same bank we also saw a few big muddies feeding on rocks, pretty cool to see muddies feeding in the shallows in a dam.
After struggling to get another smallie we continued to troll down the bank and both Sampie and I managed to catch a few small largemouth yellows. Sampie was stoked with his first ever largie. All these fish was quickly released after pics, I didn’t bother getting photos of the small largies as I have caught many of these 1.5kg to 2,5kg largies to date – rather give them a quick release. These largies came out on 3 cm Salmo Hornets.
It was getting hot and the yellows were few and far in between, we thus decided to go and search for some Vanderkloof carp. I have learned that at Vanderkloof one needs to find lots of vegetation as this is the areas that usually hold carp. We came across an area with lots of water grass and as I expected the area had several carp feeding on the surface in the thick grasses. The challenge was getting to the fish. Our Motorguide trollingmotor struggled to operate in the grasses which made it very difficult to get in to reach of these feeding carp to dip them. We decided to fish the edges of the grass beds via the dipping method.
Tackle for carp on the dipping method:
- Mitchell Privilege Pro 13.6ft telescopic carp dipping rod
- Abu Garcia Revo S baitcaster reel
- 20lb Berkley Fireline
- Sada Leadhead with a Berkley Powerbait Wiggler trailer
It was a frustrating situation not to be able to fish for the feeding carp around us. Luckily there were a few carp cruising down the edges of the grass which we could target. We presented our leaheads at many of these carp with a few on/offs, but most of them ignored our lures. This was very different to my previous carp encounter at this venue where almost all the carp we tried for went for our lures. I think a slow sinking fly casted at these carp would have worked better in this specific situation than dipping for them with leadheads. Eventually after missing quite a few fish one of the carps committed to my lure and I was on! These carp are strong fighters – it immediately pulled me deep into the thick grass. I kept tension on the line while carefully applying more pressure to pull the carp out of the grass. Things went my way and Sampie managed to net the fine mirror carp specimen. I noticed that this venue has an even spread of mirrors and common carp.
After I managed this fish we continued working for these carp with no luck. The wind soon picked up and we decided to try a bay with some cover from the wind. This bay had two channels flowing into it creating a great catfish spot where deep and shallow water meets. The water in this bay was murky – just the way I like it for catfish. I got my calling rod ready for some calling action.
Tackle for catfish on the calling method:
- Blue Marlin Big Shot calling rod
- Penn Fathom 12 Star Drag reel
- 100lb Berkley Whiplash
- Lume Madpumkin Fast Sinking in carp colour
Even though I didn’t see much catfish activity in the area, the structure and time of day (late afternoon) was right for calling catfish – thus I decided to try my luck. I waded in the area, calling from spot to spot. I got a few bumps relatively quickly from smaller specimens. As I stopped and started calling on a new spot, I saw a big catfish turn a few meters away from me. I reacted by calling a bit harder to see if I can entice the catfish to come and have a look at what was making this racket. To my surprise a big flush of bubbles surfaced next to the spot I was calling followed by a massive swirl. I hit my lure on the water and let it sink – my line went heavy and with force my rod tip was pulled under the water – ON! The cat stormed of giving me an intense reel run! I shouted at Sampie “I’m ON! It’s a BIG ONE!” He came rushing towards me and witnessed my battle with the beast. The cat was heavy and strong, but my trusty Penn’s drag handled this powerful fish well. Eventually the fish surfaced tired next to me. We took a few pics, revived the fish and released it for another day. The fish was a firm 14kg, good fish to open my catfish account for this trip. We called it a day as it was getting late and we had a scrumptious dinner waiting for us back at Pride Rock Lodge.
Here is a link to where we stayed for this trip: http://www.vanderkloofdam.co.za/pride-rock-lodge/